Dick Palmer, Chairman, EduGrowth

We all know Blair’s Education, Education, Education mantra and our current Prime Minister has just launched his infrastructure initiative with Build, Build, Build – but when are we going to make a real difference to our post-pandemic economy and get going with Start-Up, Start-Up, Start-Up????

It has often been said that these are unchartered times during the pandemic and that our economies have been shifted irrevocably for the future – but not necessarily where they will shift to!

A recent published report, Recovery and Resilience - taken from a survey of 2,000 people, commissioned by City & Guilds and undertaken by YouGov in June 2020 - showed that of those surveyed who had recently been on furlough, 54% of them were worried, or very worried, about job security.

Moreover, it is clear that young people are particularly affected in the labour market: another recent report (by the Resolution Foundation Young Workers in the Coronavirus Crisis) shows that young people claiming unemployment benefit rose from 235,000 in March to 523,000 in May this year – almost doubling in number in just three months.

So …. whilst much of the future remains anxiety-ridden uncertainty, we can optimistically hold onto the fact that one truism remains – intelligence and innovation will drive our economy in the 20’s and beyond.

Moreover, and this was – and needs to still remain to be – a huge strength of the British economy, the power of new business start-ups will help us rejuvenate local, regional, national and global growth. After all we have often been called “a nation of shop keepers” and are constantly told that the vast majority of our local economies are statistically dominated by small and medium sized enterprises (SME’s – typically with up to fifty employees). Both these characterisations are predicated on the British entrepreneurial spirit and love of controlling our own destiny.

And I know from my own personal experience that this entrepreneurial spirit is not something we need to force onto people: when I was Principal of City College Norwich we undertook a random online survey of our students – academic and vocational alike – and, even then (2010), over 60% wanted to become self-employed (particularly in the sectors most prevalent in the gig economies) or start their own business.

So its likely that given the pandemic, and the number of people becoming unemployed and the general desire within the UK population to start their own business (or become self-employed), then how come all these people aren’t out there right now, getting their great, new business ideas off the ground?

Well, one of the things that people say to put someone off starting their own business is the statistic that so many start-ups fail.

The latest figures from the Office of National Statistics (ONS - data from 2018), shows that in that year over 380,000 new businesses started up. The “survival rate” – as the ONS calls it – for businesses last at least a year is around 89%. However, those businesses that are still in operation after 5 years drops down to almost 42%. So, the data does paint a harsh picture.

Clearly, there will be many, many factors why businesses fail. These will obviously include:

  • Increased competition
  • Lack of investment funds
  • Changes in customer/market needs, and
  • Not having the right team

Indeed, much research has been undertaken in this area and even a quick Google search will give you the top ten, or top five – even the top eight or top nine! – reasons for failure.

So how can someone interested in starting their own business minimise the risk of any of these myriad reasons causing their business concept to fail?

One key way must be to provide those budding entrepreneurs with the knowledge and skills to be better equipped to deal with the challenges inherent in starting off a new business (or indeed becoming self-employed) – like managing your finances or sourcing investment finance or managing people. I don’t buy the idea that entrepreneurs are born and not made! It doesn’t matter how inherently risk hungry you are, you won’t make that fantastic idea profitable unless you understand what cash flow means.

Therefore, giving potential new business owners these skills and knowledge may truly transform the capacity of our people to succeed where so many have previously failed.

Here at EduGrowth, we want to play our part in supporting a world class support system in the UK.

We have developed a suite of online education and training modules which can support potential start-ups to succeed. We note in the same City and Guilds report, cited above, that for 40% of all workers, delivery entirely via an online learning capability is the top requirement when considering a training course.

In our programme we also provide a unique (we believe!) facility by adding coaching support from experienced coaches to help our participants develop their business idea. And all our on-course assessments are totally practical with each exercise being applied to the participant’s own business idea. So simply undertaking the programme will make their business idea a much better one!

Now, in post-pandemic UK we don’t just need to educate and build our infrastructure – we also need to StartUp!

The future’s bright for new thinking in the UK. The economy will be shaped by bright ideas and new businesses.

Lets help give those budding entrepreneurs the skills and knowledge to successfully play their part in the StartUp revolution!

Dick Palmer, Chairman, EduGrowth

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